Florida city approves ban on camping to fight homelessness

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – City officials approved a set of actions to tackle the increasing number of individuals facing homelessness in DeLand. During a meeting on Monday, the city council passed three ordinances that will increase police involvement. The regulations prohibit camping on public property, storing personal belongings in shopping carts and bags, and sleeping or lying on public benches.

Savannah-Jane Griffin, the CEO of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, emphasized the importance of guiding homeless individuals to available services.

“We’ve received numerous reports from local residents and businesses about people sleeping on the streets,” Griffin mentioned. “I am optimistic that our work will have a positive effect on people’s lives.” Griffin reported that approximately 400 individuals without homes reside in the city. Meanwhile, the city has stated that the approach is necessary for individuals who are declining assistance.

When our police officers come across a homeless individual, they will inquire if they have a place to stay, according to city spokesperson Chris Graham.

Graham mentioned that the police will then provide assistance in connecting the individual with a local shelter that the city is collaborating with, such as the Neighborhood Center and First Step Shelter.

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Our food pantry distributes food to those in need. Griffin expressed optimism that the availability of shelter and showers would guide individuals to the resources. After the city council meeting on Monday, DeLand City Attorney Darren Elkind assured that homeless residents in DeLand will not be arrested outright.

“We won’t arrest and take homeless individuals in DeLand to jail.” That is not the situation… According to Elkind. “If there’s a destination and transportation provided at no cost, but I choose not to go, then those individuals can be arrested.”

Yet, a DeLand resident voiced opposition to the new policies at the meeting. The resident expressed concern about the police department’s role in handling mental health issues.

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